For great swaths of middle-agers — Stuck in the '80s chuckleheads Sean Daly and Steve Spears included — the first time they laughed so hard they cried (or worse) was while watching Eddie Murphy at his best: on SNL, on HBO, in the cineplex. Mr. Robinson, Delirious, Trading Places? Breathing stopped.
The man who would be Donkey turns the big 5-0 on Sunday, a rather jarring b-day for a perpetually youthful, indefatigable cut-up. So in tribute to the jester of their youths, Daly and Spears remember Eddie! Eddie! Eddie! sitting on top of the world — and not breaking our hearts by discussing Beverly Hills Cop 4, due in 2014. Oh well, at least we still have the "barbecue" skit. "Aunt Bunny is coming to get me!"
STEVE SPEARS: Scads of '80s royalty hit 50 this year: Michael J. Fox, Meg Ryan, Ralph "Daniel-san" Macchio. But why does Murphy's birthday feel the most momentous?
SEAN DALY: Because the Brooklyn-born kid was once elastic, seemingly ageless, all gangly limbs, big smile and that even bigger braying laugh — he was a superhero in a Buckwheat wig. Unbeatable! Even 1986 flick The Golden Child may not be AFI material, but the premise is brilliant: Eddie vs. the Devil? Who wouldn't take the speed-lipped comedian in that throwdown?
SPEARS: First of all, I actually liked The Golden Child. "I-I-I want the knife." "My dear, sweet brother Numsie!" Classic! Second, you somehow stumbled onto something intelligent. None of his best characters were all that relatable — he was a superhero, in a Mumford Phys. Ed. T-shirt — but they were always rootable. Beverly Hills Cop, 48 Hours, Coming to America. Then again, you're a profanity-spewing motormouth, so maybe you saw a kindred spirit.
DALY: "Look, man, I ain't fallin' for no banana in my tailpipe!" Now that's classic. The '80s were easily his top creative decade. (We'll give him a mulligan on his musical Party All the Time moonlighting.) So here's your challenge: Give me his best five flicks OUTSIDE of the '80s.
SPEARS: If we must venture outside that magical decade — and Daddy Day Care and Dr. Doolittle tell me I really shouldn't — how about: Bowfinger, Boomerang, Showtime, Dreamgirls.
DALY: Showtime?! That turkey with De Niro? Glad you said Bowfinger, though; that's an underrated gem. Still, you forgot Shrek, Disney's Mulan and The Nutty Professor (especially as mad-grinning Lothario Buddy Love and the entire Klump brood. "Hercules! Hercules!").
SPEARS: Maybe it'd be best to simply watch HBO standup special Delirious, the gold standard, in a continuous loop.
DALY: Ye have little faith. He has two films — including the promising Tower Heist, with Ben Stiller — due this year. Drop the '80s, dude. Live in the now and embrace the Eddie comeback!
SPEARS: Goonie-goo-goo to you too, Gus.
Stuck in the '80s can be found at tampabay.com/blogs/80s.